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Monday, March 8, 2010

Procurement controversies -- Montgomery County, Maryland USA

Report on Md. police tuition aid cites poor oversight, abuse
Montgomery County awarded more than $600,000 in no-bid payments to nine companies that had ties to county police officers and were part of a controversial tuition-assistance program, Montgomery's inspector general said in a report released Monday.

The government provided little oversight for the program and in many cases appeared to have responded to invoices from the companies simply by cutting checks

Inspector General Thomas J. Dagley concluded that the close ties among the companies, employees and students enrolled in the classes have "and will continue to expose county taxpayer dollars to waste and abuse until more comprehensive guidelines and monitoring are put in place."

Montgomery County Council members criticized the way in which government administrators ran the program. "The executive branch just kind of puts these programs on autopilot and hopes everything will work out because the intentions are good," said Council member Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty).

"There is nobody over there minding the store," said Council member Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring).

County government departments and its Ethics Commission have not taken action sufficient to ensure that employees and training companies are in compliance with ethics, personnel and procurement regulations.

In response to the report, the county said Dagley violated county law by releasing a copy of the report to council members before the administration had submitted its response. "Not only does your early release of the report indicate a common lack of courtesy," wrote Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Firestine, "it is inconsistent with the law under which you operate."

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